Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism: Investigation of an Ancient Astronomical Calculator

T. Freeth1,2 , Y. Bitsakis3,5 , X. Moussas3, J.H. Seiradakis4, A.Tselikas5, E. Magkou6, M. Zafeiropoulou6, R. Hadland7, D. Bate7, A. Ramsey7, M. Allen7, A. Crawley7, P. Hockley7, T. Malzbender8, D. Gelb8, W. Ambrisco9 and M.G. Edmunds1
1 Cardiff University, School of Physics and Astronomy, Queens Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AA, UK. Mike Edmunds Mike.Edmunds @ 2 Images First Ltd 10 Hereford Road, South Ealing, London W5 4SE, UK. Tony Freeth tony @ 3 National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Department of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, Panepistimiopolis, GR15783, Zographos, Greece. Xenophon Moussas, xmoussas @ 4 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Physics, Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, GR-54124 Thessaloniki, Greece. John Seiradakis jhs @ 5 Centre for History and Palaeography, National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation, P. Skouze 3, 10560 Athens, Greece. Yanis Bitsakis bitsakis @ 6 National Archaeological Museum of Athens, 44 Patission Str, 106 82 Athens, Greece. 7 X-Tek Systems Ltd, Tring Business Centre, Icknield Way, Tring, Herts HP23 4JX, UK. 8 Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, 1501 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA. 9 Foxhollow Technologies Inc., 740 Bay Road, Redwood City, CA 94063, USA.

Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, published in Nature, Volume 444, Issue 7119, pp. 587-591 (2006).


4. while the calm regularity of the astronomical cycles must have been philosophically attractive in an uncertain and violent world.12.2.7. Its specific functions have remained controversial11. The inscriptions support suggestions of mechanical display of planetary positions9. Volume 444.5.The Antikythera Mechanism is a unique Greek geared device.8. pp. The Mechanism predicted lunar and solar eclipses based on Babylonian arithmetic-progression cycles.13. Here we report surface imaging and high-resolution Xray tomography of the surviving fragments. Named after its place of discovery in 1901 in a Roman shipwreck. constructed around the end of the 2nd Century BC. We find a mechanical realization of this theory in the gearing of the Mechanism.16. published in Nature.3. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. the Mechanism is technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards. Issue 7119. 587-591 (2006). now lost. In the second century BC. particularly cycles such as the phases of the moon and a luni-solar calendar. Calendars were important to ancient societies10 for timing agricultural activity and fixing religious festivals.9 it is known that it calculated and displayed celestial information. Eclipses and planetary motions were often interpreted as omens. 3 .14 because its gears and the inscriptions upon its faces are only fragmentary. revealing an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period. Hipparchos developed a theory to explain the irregularities of the Moon's motion across the sky caused by its elliptic orbit. From previous work1.14. enabling us to reconstruct the gear function and double the number of deciphered inscriptions.6.

A later proposal5 augments this with the Upper Subsidiary Dial showing the 76-year Callippic Cycle. the spiral starting at the bottom of the dial. In agreement with the Back Door inscription. In the CT of fragment B we find a new feature that explains why the dial is a spiral: a “Pointer-Follower” device (see Figure 3) travelled around the spiral groove to indicate which month (across the five turns of the scale) should be read. “West-North-West” and “West-South-West” suggest an eclipse function for the dial. we confirm the 235 total divisions. Issue 7119. The Front Door is mainly from fragment G. The Back Door inscription mixes mechanical terms about construction (“trunnions”. pp.23. we also substantiate the perceptive proposal5. E and F. implying that that the Mechanism was constructed during the period 150100 BC. with astronomical inscriptions covering much of the exterior of the Mechanism (Figure 2). and a corresponding calendar1 of 365 days that could be adjusted for leap years. We discover the inscription “spiral divided into 235 sections”. This is consistent with a date of around 80-60 BC of the wreck1. or “glyphs” (see Supplementary Notes 2 (Glyphs & Inscriptions)) at intervals of one.The bronze Mechanism (Figure 1). the Front Dial displays the position of the Sun and Moon in the Zodiac. Based on a statistical analysis analogous to that described for gear tooth counts below. Sun) or both. This is the Saros eclipse cycle. as required for a Callippic Dial. Moon) or H for a solar eclipse (from ΗΛΙΟΣ. whose number is on the Back Door inscription. slightly earlier than previously suggested1. The sequences of eclipses can then be used to predict the expected position of glyphs on the whole dial. Possibly this information was added to the Mechanism during use.24 is the only known source of sufficient data to construct the dial. The detailed form of the lettering can be dated to the second half of the 2nd Century BC.6. 4 .25 that the dial is in fact a spiral. the Babylonian Saros Canon22. “perforations”) with astronomical periods. it was suggested that the Upper Back Dial might have five concentric rings with 47 divisions per turn. Turning to the dials themselves. The use of “sterigmos [ΣΤΗΡΙΓΜΟΣ] – station or stationary point” means where a planet’s apparent motion changes direction and the numbers may relate to planetary cycles. Between the scale divisions of the Saros Dial we have identified 16 blocks of characters. The text near the Lower Back Dial includes “Pharos” and “From South (about/around)…. We are able to complete the reconstruction1 of the Back Door inscription with text from fragment E. which is the key to understanding the function6 of the Upper Back Dial.24 in antiquity with eclipse observations. A correlation analysis (analogous to DNA sequence matching) with historic eclipse data26 indicates that over a period of 400 – 1 BC the sequence of eclipses marked by the identified glyphs would be exactly matched by 121 possible start dates. Our optical and CT imaging confirm these proposals. we establish 223 divisions in the four-turn5. Of the periods. The dial starts and finishes with an eclipse. From our CT data of the 48 scale divisions observed in fragments A.25 spiral on the Lower Back Dial. Although Ptolemy indicates that the Greeks recorded eclipses in the 2nd century BC. made from semicircular arcs displaced to two centres on the vertical midline. It had front and back doors. Volume 444. “gnomon”. since solar eclipses occur only at limited geographical sites. These are eclipse predictions and contain either Σ for a lunar eclipse (from ΣΕΛΗΝΗ. showing the 235 months of the 19year Metonic Cycle. with 34 scale markings discovered on the Upper Back Dial. We also find from the CT that the subsidiary dial is indeed divided into quadrants1. five and six months. probably hand-driven. 223 is the Saros eclipse cycle (see Box for brief explanation of astronomical cycles and periods). was originally housed in a wooden-framed case1 of (uncertain) overall size 340 x 180 x 90 mm.20 from which the mechanism was recovered by some of the first underwater archaeology. together with previous readings1 of “Towards the East”. Previously1.Spain ten”.23. The references to “golden little sphere” and “little sphere” probably refer to the front zodiac display for the Sun and Moon – including phase for the latter. The 54-year Exeligmos cycle of three Saros cycles is shown on the Lower Subsidiary Dial. The text is astronomical with many numbers that could be related to planetary motions. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. and characters from fragments A and F. 587-591 (2006). published in Nature. Our new transcriptions and translations of the Greek texts are given in Supplementary Notes 2 (Glyphs & Inscriptions). These geographical references. and winds were often recorded22. as seen in Figure 4. The matching only occurs if the lunar month starts at first crescent and confirms this choice of month start in the Mechanism.

Of particular note is the dual use of the large gear. These are part of epicyclic gearing that calculates the theory of the irregular motion of the moon. These are based mainly on the CT. The proposed model is shown in Figure 5. 587-591 (2006). This was previously identified4. a pin-and-slot device on the epicyclic gears k1 and k2. Details will be available on www. deviation from the measurements—varying the centre in software (when unclear) to find the best-fit solution or solutions (see Supplementary Notes 3 (Gears)). but many gears are incomplete.6. at the back of the Mechanism. We agree with the assumption of four missing gears (n1. The period of this anomaly is the period from apogee to apogee (the anomalistic month). We have adopted a systematic nomenclature of lower case letters for the axis of the gear.8. which would occur if k1 and k2 were on fixed axes. 5 . 53-teeth gears are awkward to divide. but rejected as a lunar mechanism. We require the assumption of only one further gear (m3) whose proposed shaft is clearly broken off in the CT.antikythera-mechanism. In a few cases all teeth can be seen. which has found no use in previous models. published in Nature. We propose a new reconstruction for the other trains. The remarkable purpose of mounting the pin-and-slot mechanism on the gear e3 is to change the period of variation from sidereal month (i. To realize this theory.2.5. to anomalistic month—by carrying the gears epicyclically at a rate that is the difference between the rates of the sidereal and anomalistic months. p1. caused by its elliptical orbit about the Earth. whose effects cancel in the train leading to the Saros Dial. using angular measurement from a nominal centre to the remains of tooth tips. The Antikythera Mechanism shows such great economy and ingenuity of design.4. it is powered by m3 as part of a fixed-axis train that turns the Saros and Exeligmos Dials for eclipse prediction and also doubles as the “epicyclic table” for the gears k1. i. d and e and this is then fed into the epicyclic system.The functions of the Mechanism are determined by the tooth counts of the gears. via e1 and b3. which are the basis for all the prime factors in the tooth counts of the gears. the time taken for the Moon to orbit the Earth relative to the zodiac).e. clearly seen in the CT. A detailed description is contained in the Supplementary Notes 3 (Gears). at the rate of rotation of about 9 years of the Moon’s apogee. Several models have been proposed for the gear trains1. developed by Hipparchos sometime between 146 and 128 BC28—the “first anomaly”. But the gearing has been specifically designed so that the “epicyclic table” e3 turns at the rate of rotation of the Moon’s apogee—the factor 53 being derived from the calculation of this rotation from the Metonic and Saros cycles. Issue 7119. p2) to drive the Metonic and Callippic Dials4. The output of this complex system is carried from e6 back through e3 and thence. and access to this will start in 2007. to the zodiac scale on the Front Dial and the lunar phase7 mechanism. It stands as a witness to the extraordinary technological potential of Ancient Greece. k2. the mean sidereal lunar motion is first calculated by gears on axes c. apparently lost within the Roman Empire. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. In our model. So it may seem surprising that the gearing includes two gears with 53 teeth (f1.m. e3. Our CT confirms the complex structure of axis e that this model entails.s. provides the variation.e. which uses all extant gears (except the lone r1 from the separate fragment D). Counts are established by fitting models with regularly spaced teeth and minimising the r. l2). Volume 444. A major aim of this investigation is to set up a data archive to allow non-invasive future research. As explained in Figure 6. with numbering increasing with ordering from the front of the Mechanism. Hypothetical (lost) gears are denoted by italics. The establishment of the 53-tooth count of these gears is powerful confirmation of our proposed model of Hipparchos’ lunar theory. pp.

True repeats come after 3 Saros cycles. After the Cycle the Sun. Epicyclic Gearing and the Antikythera Mechanism. March 2006.. eclipses will of course only occur at new or full Moon in the month (ii) the lunar crossing of the EarthSun orbital plane. 169-173.T. The Saros Cycle is not an integer number of days (6585 ). .T. A. 8-13. New Series. The Saros is an eclipse repeat cycle. M. 80 BC.6 p193 (2002) 10 11 12 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 North. and Magkou. Part 7 (reprinted as Science History Publications. Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society. Horological Journal. The cycle arises from the coincidence of three orbital periods of the Moon. E. Challenging the Classic Research. (1993) 13 Freeth. a very similar eclipse will occur 223 lunar months later21. pp. Part II. Vol. (1990) Bromley. de S. Antikythera: An Australian-Made Greek Icon!. Volume 144. 531-543. (2005) Wright. causing the eclipses in successive cycles to be displaced by eight hours in time (and solar eclipses. Vol 132. No. The 76-year Callippic Cycle is four Metonic Cycles minus one day . (1974) 2 Wright. The Antikythera Mechanism. Moon and Earth are back in nearly the same relative orientations.T.T. pp. March (2003) Wright. NY 1975). G. Simple X-Ray Tomography and the Antikythera Mechanism. 29. Vol. pp 49-60.D. Fontana Press. (1994) Bromley. April (1991) Wright. 242 draconitic months – eclipses can only occur near these points (nodes) of co-alignment (iii) similar Earth-Moon distances which occur on the period from apogee to apogee of the Moon’s orbit. M. Antiquarian Horology. 412-415. PACT 45 (1995) . the 54-year Exeligmos cycle. No. June 1993. M. and in 19 years there are 235 + 19 = 254 sidereal months. T. It represents the return to the same phase of the Moon on the same date in the year. No. Volume 29. Counting Months and Years: The Upper Back Dial of the Antikythera Mechanism.Box Astronomical Cycles known to the Babylonians The lunar (or synodic) month is the interval between the Moon being at the same phase – e. Proceedings of the conference Archaeometry in South-Eastern Europe. Horological Journal. 2-7. The Metonic Cycle results from the close equality of 19 years to 235 lunar months. M. (2006) Wright. The Antikythera Mechanism: 1. Antiquarian Horology. G. Basser Department of Computer Science. University of Sydney. ensuring the similarity of eclipses at the period of the cycle. to be displaced by 120˚ in longitude). pp.and improves the accuracy of reconciling solar years with whole numbers of lunar months. but not with identical solar eclipse paths. Vol. September (2005) Wright. (2005) Wright. 239 anomalistic months. The distance will determine the magnitude of the eclipse.T. J. No. Volume 444. Philos. 1. 144. Issue 7119. M.T. pp. Mediterranean Archaeology & 6 Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. 3. M. Athens. full moon to full moon. D. Bassernet. pp. No. 223 synodic months. The Moon appears to return to the same point in the sky relative to the zodiac in a sidereal month. The Antikythera Mechanism and the Early History of the Moon-Phase Display. Epicyclic gearing and the Antikythera Mechanism. pp. 270-279. pp. 87.3. No. pp. only visible at limited geographical locations. 85. The Fontana History of Astronomy and Cosmology. A. A Planetarium Display for the Antikythera Mechanism. G. Part I. Trans Am. Understanding the Antikythera Mechanism. If either a solar or lunar eclipse occurs.T. A record of past eclipses can thus be used to predict future occurrences. 3. 319-329. 64.T. Antiquarian Horology. A. M.g.5. (2006) Wright.. These are (i) same phase to same phase. No. 51-63. 587-591 (2006). Bromley. 2. The Antikythera Mechanism: a New Gearing Scheme. Gears from the Greeks: The Antikythera Mechanism — A Calendar Computer from ca. M. Proceedings 2nd International Conferenceon Ancient Greek Technology. Technical Chamber of Greece. Bibliography 1 Price. published in Nature. Soc. 27 No. pp. Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society. No. A.M. No 2285. Alexander Jones. carried out the majority of the CT analysis of structure and its interpretation.hpl. translated by G. Jim Austin. 421-454.hp.E. the University of Athens Research Committee and the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece. D. Josef Lossl. M. T.H. M.accepted *******.ac.).G. J.F. designed the illustrations. (1993) 22 23 Stephenson. (2003) 26 Espenak F. was academic lead. Dividing the Circle. Ruth Westgate.G. Die Rolle der Astronomie in den Kulturen Mesopotamiens. Scientific Astronomy in Pre-Seleucid Babylon. and W.M.D. Tricks of the read. pp. NASA’s website on eclipses developed by Fred Espenak. with crucial inter-agency liaison by Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. (2002) X-Tek Systems Ltd. and measured the fragments with J. catalogued the fragments.xtek. Polynomial Texture Mapping.E. Graz.H. 2 No. Andrew Ray. T. Arch. including material from Y.G. A..M. Velson Horie.P..nasa. 3.T.B. The Scholar.F.) that built and operated the Bladerunner CT machine. revised*****. 54. Gerasimos Makris.Archaeometry.S. and M. Galter (ed.H.html 27 28 Chapman. The manuscript was written by T. . pp.T. (2000) Wright.M and M. Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society. X. (2000) 24 25 Steele. Ian Freestone. pp. J. and J. 587-591 (2006).E. led the team (D. P.. Vol. Volume 444. Cambridge University Press.S. Isis. Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on www.Z. 17 18 Malzbender. Greece (Petros Tatoulis) and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens (Nikolaos Kaltsas). We acknowledge invaluable help and advice from Janet Ambers. Haralambos Kritzas.. J. M. organised the logistics of the experimental work. (1998) 16 Freeth. R.M. (1995) Jones. T. (1997) Steele.M. and M.Wiley. Mark Jones. Christof Reinhart (Volume Graphics GmbH). Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry. Vol. T. Sep (1991) Received ** August 2006. Hist.T. and Morgan. J.B. Astronomy & Geophysics. Princeton University Press. Stuart Wright and Costas Xenikakis Author Contributions statement. built. Observations and Predictions of Eclipse Times by Early Astronomers. M. Chichester. A. http://cma. http://sunearth.nature. pp. provided guidance on X-ray examination. The Antikythera Mechanism: 2.gsfc. 2. Geraint Dermody.C. 21-35. transcribed and translated the inscriptions. Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge finance from the Leverhulme Trust. The Antikythera Mechanism: still a mystery of Greek astronomy?. A.B. M. E. pp. F. ISBN 0-7923-6298-5. 7 April (2001) Illsley.. M. A. Dordrecht. and undertook the statistical analysis. 7 .S. Ptolemy’s Almagest. R. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 6. Exact Sci. and Gelb. with a foreword by Owen Gingerich. 82. No. 41.H. 3-D Computed Tomography (2006). and provided CT reconstructions and advice. http://www. 80. and Y. Vol. A.R.soton. 45-58.10-6. Author Information The authors declare no competing financial interests.A. Hewlett-Packard Mobile and Media Systems Laboratory. E. pp. (2000) 15 Toomer. 2 No..B. http://www. NASA/GSFC (2005).htm 20 19 21 Britton. Peter Haycock. Issue 7119. 440-453. J. G. Panagiotis Kipouros. and X. Chapter in H. J. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M. J. operated and provided software for the PTM. the Mechanic and the Antikythera Mechanism. Eclipse Prediction in Mesopotamia.G. For essential support we thank the Ministry of Culture. The Adaptation of Babylonian Methods in Greek Numerical Astronomy. and P. (2006). Tim Whiteside. pp. (2002) 14 Edmunds. Hazel published in Nature. (mge@astro. All modern eclipse data and predictions in our work are by Fred Espenak.A. Toomer.. 4-11. New Scientist. T.F. Historical Eclipses and Earth’s Rotation. 1. M. the Walter Hudson Bequest. Is it Posidonius’ Orrery?.17.Z. J.

It is not certain that every one of the remaining fragments (numbered 1-75) belong to the Mechanism. (ii) Digital optical imaging to reveal faint surface detail using Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM)18. developed by Hewlett-Packard Inc. Issue 7119. starting at top left. 8 . G immediately below them. which contains most of the gears. We have used three principal techniques to investigate the structure and inscriptions of the Antikythera Mechanism. is approximately 180 x 150 mm in size. F. with E. The 82 fragments that survive in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens are shown to scale. (i) 3dimensional X-ray microfocus computed tomography17 (CT). B. A key and dimensions are provided in Supplementary Notes 1 (Fragments). Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. 27 hand-cut bronze gears are in fragment A and one gear in each of fragments B. (iii) Digitised high quality conventional film photography.Figure 1: The surviving fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism.19. developed by X-Tek Systems Ltd. C. C. C and D. 587-591 (2006). D are across the top. E and F. A schematic reconstruction is given in Figure 2. Volume 444. Segments of display scales are in fragments B. The major fragments A. published in Nature. pp. The use of CT has been crucial in making the text legible just beneath the current surfaces. The distinctive fragment A.

The inner scale shows the Greek Zodiac with 360 divisions. The effect of the extra quarter day in a year could be corrected by turning the scale one day every four years – and a sequence of holes to take a locking pin is observed under the scale. The outer (originally) movable scale is a Calendar carrying the Egyptian names of the months with Greek letters. H. published in Nature. while the spiral Lower Back Dial displays the 223 lunar month Saros eclipse cycle with a subsidiary dial showing the Exeligmos cycle. Θ) to Price’s description1. There are occasional Greek letters denoting references to the Parapegma inscription. pp. Issue 7119. It is not clear whether the Sun position pointer would have been separated from a date pointer. Volume 444. We find that spacing of the holes is indeed what would be expected for a total of 365 days. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. 9 . and a device7 showing the phase of the Moon was probably carried round on the lunar pointer. with a possible range 363-365. The Egyptian Calendar of 365 days.Figure 2: A schematic view of the Mechanism to illustrate the position of major inscriptions and dials. The Parapegma is a star almanac showing rising and settings at dawn or evening of particular stars or constellations. The spiral Upper Back Dial displays the luni-solar Metonic sequence of 235 lunar months with a subsidiary dial showing the Callippic cycle. with twelve 30-day months and 5 extra (epagomenai) days was in standard use in Greek astronomy. and we add three further reference letters (Z. or whether any planetary positions might have been displayed. The position of the Sun and Moon would have been indicated by pointers across the dial scales. The Front Dial has two concentric scales. 587-591 (2006). Its form is consistent with a late 2nd Century BC date. which we will discuss elsewhere.

a computer reconstruction of the device from two different angles (with the Metonic scale omitted for clarity). 587-591 (2006). 10 . These show two views at right angles of the pointer-follower in the Metonic dial in fragment B. causing the device to slide along the month pointer to indicate which ring on the spiral scale specified the month. The Metonic dial would have required resetting every 19 years. analysed with VGStudio Max software by Volume Graphics GmbH. The pin was constrained to follow the groove between the spiral scales (the scale is shown in Figure 4). false-colour sections through CT images. The groove-pin may have been held in place by the small pin through the front of the device. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism.Figure 3: The “pointer-follower” lunar month indicator of the Upper Back Dial. pp. the Saros dial after 18 years. On the left. enabling its removal for re-setting. published in Nature. On the right. Issue 7119. Volume 444. A similar pointerfollower would have been present on the Lower Back (Saros) Dial.

E and F. Volume 444. The Metonic Calendar is at top. implying a systematic attempt at marking full (30-day) and hollow (29-day) months. Issue 7119. pp. The hypothetical glyphs are based on the criterion that 99% of the 121 sequences exactly matching the observed glyphs have an eclipse at the month position. with its subsidiary Callippic dial. 587-591 (2006). with its subsidiary Exeligmos dial. then this would greatly predate known “dividing engines”27 by many centuries. with 35 hypothetical glyphs in violet. A composite of fragments A. published in Nature. The 16 observed eclipse glyphs are shown in turquoise on the Saros dial. Both main dials would have a “pointerfollower” (see Figure 3) to indicate the relevant lunar month on the spiral. The incomplete data does not allow good analysis. If the marking out of the scale were carried out using the Mechanism’s gearing.Figure 4: Reconstruction of the Back Dials. The Saros eclipse cycle is below. The monthly divisions on the Metonic Upper Back Dial are not simply scribed directly across all five turns. B. as might be expected for simplicity of construction. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. other than a hint of bimodality in the interval distribution. There are small misalignments. 11 .

The two-or-three digit number on the gear is its actual or assumed tooth count (See Supplementary Notes 3 (Gears)).4. p1. and numbered with increasing distance from the Front Dial. 587-591 (2006). published in Nature. The CT shows a pin through axis e between gears e1 and e2. We find no evidence in the CT for an idler wheel carried on e3 and between e5 and k1 or between k2 and e6.2. 12 . The function of the trains is outlined in the text. Features that are outlined or labelled in red are hypothetical. Volume 444. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. All gears.Figure 5: New Reconstruction of the Gear Trains. but its passage right through the axis rules out previous reconstructions1. Gears are lettered with their shaft. except the lone one in fragment D. following the style of Price1 and Wright4. the gear m3 on the broken-off shaft m is our addition. p2 have been proposed previously. as has been previously proposed1. and is stretched in the direction of the main axes to show the structure. We believe its purpose is to retain the square-bossed e1 on the shaft.2. A schematic sectional diagram (not to scale) of the gearing. Issue 7119. pp. n2. The viewpoint is looking down from the top right of the Mechanism.4 where e1 and e2 were joined by an outer pipe rotating around the shaft e. are now accounted for in the Mechanism. Hypothetical gears n1.

The harmonic variation.1 mm. showing (top) shaft e and (bottom) shaft k. k1 has a pin on its face that engages with a radial slot in k2 (and this was previously reported5).Figure 6: The “Hipparchos” Lunar Mechanism mounted on gear e3. which is then transmitted to e6. It is tempting to associate the conception of the Mechanism with Hipparchos himself.6 mm. giving an angular variation of 6. pp. but he was not the first to assume eccentric or epicyclic models. Hipparchos made two estimates for a lunar anomaly parameter. Volume 444. An (unexplained) regular pentagon is visible at the centre of gear e5. The difference from our estimated value is probably not significant given the difficulty of precise measurement of the axes in the CT. published in Nature. while the two k gears rotate on slightly displaced axes. 587-591 (2006). The figure is based on a CT slice of part of fragment A. would simulate the correct variation for the Moon’s mean (sidereal) rotation rate on the Front Dial. 13 . Our estimate of the distance between the arbors on the k gears is about 1. based on eclipse data. which drives k2 via the pin-and-slot introducing a quasi-sinusoidal variation in the motion. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. with a pin distance of 9. In the figure the pitch circles of e5 and k1 are shown in turquoise and those of e6 and k2 in pink.9˚ or 4.5˚ here – although estimates of the anomaly from Babylonian astronomy were generally larger.5o. According to Ptolemy15. together with the effect of carrying the gears on e3 which rotates at the period of the Moon’s apogee around the Earth. The gear e5 drives k1. Issue 7119. which would require angular variations of 5. The two gears on the e axis (e5 and e6) are coaxial. The complete geometry cannot be seen in a single CT slice.

published in Nature. 587-591 (2006). Volume 444. 14 . pp.Symbols (glyphs) in the Saros spiral scale Lunar Glyphs 48 54 107 142 218 Solar Glyphs 41 53 100 106 147 Lunar & Solar Glyphs 153 159 165 200 206 212 Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism. Issue 7119.